Friday, September 5, 2008

As Others See Us, League City Edition

When we moved to League City, we discovered that this is a very nice town for used bookstores. They generally have nice owners and while their genre sections are sometimes small, they're often of surprisingly high quality. As we were unpacking, I realized I had a bunch of duplicates, so I decided to sell them to a used bookstore that was just opening, and whose owner said she needed stock. It's a decision I definitely came to regret. As with every other time I sold books I ended up regretting it. The upshot: the only store I have credit with is the one I dislike the most. (I'm not naming the store since I suspect I'd have had negative feelings about whichever place I sold books to.)

Today, after 7 months I decided to go back in and use some of that store credit--otherwise I'd have given her about 20 books for free. (Grrr.) Here's the dialog:

Her: Hi! It's been a while since I saw you.
Me: Yes, it has.
Her: Can I help you find anything?
Me: No thanks, I'll probably take a stroll through your SF section.
Her: OK.

Time passes as she chats with a father and infant child.

When I see she's unoccupied:

Me: Excuse me, have you seen any Salman Rushdie come through?
Her: Who? [Already a bad sign.]
Me: Salman Rushdie.
Her: Do they write science fiction?
Me: No, he writes mainstream fiction.

[At this point let me brag a bit about NOT saying "Have you been living under a rock for the last 20 years?" I think that's an admirable display of self-restraint, right there.]

Her: Well, it'd be over here... what are some of the titles?
Me: Well there's "The Enchantress of Florence" and "The Satanic Verses"

Let me pause here and explain how the words "Satanic Verses" seemed to ring to every corner of the suddenly absolutely silent bookstore...

Her: Well, they might be over here, but if it had "Satanic" in the titled I'd probably shelve it over there [pointing at the SF section, chuckling (nervously).]
Me: Well, that's great.

[BTW, I had noticed a lot of haphazard shelving already: Carl Saga's Broca's Brain in SF (instead of non-fiction), all the astronomy books in the section labeled "Astrology," David Brin's The Postman stacked in "Historical Fiction," stuff like that.]

I was also going to ask about Carl Hiaasen, but I was so despairing for the stupidity of the world that I just checked out and left. I did end up getting 6 books for $13.50, and spending about a third of my store credit. I just wish I'd found more that I wanted, because once my store credit runs out I'm never, ever going back in there.

No comments: